Categories
Financial Wellness

6 Ways To Help Someone Struggling Financially During The Pandemic

Money concerns are one of the main causes of stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the results of a 2020 Pulse Survey conducted among 6,085 employees by MindNation’s Consumer Insights Team, nearly half (46%) of respondents listed financial pressures as their source of mental health problems. 

“Financial security is really uncertain right now,” says Mariel Bitanga, a financial planner and founder of Simply Finance (https://www.simplyfinanceph.com), a boutique financial planning firm committed to empowering Filipino women. “So many have been retrenched or furloughed, and even those who are lucky enough to still be employed are always worrying that their company will go under at any moment.” 

This constant threat of ongoing debt or insufficient income can result in feelings of loss of control, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. If you are in a position to ease the financial stress of a loved one, know that even the smallest acts of care can make a difference. Mariel suggests the following simple and concrete ways you can support someone who is struggling with money:

  1. Offer emotional support. Start by simply reaching out to let them know that you’ll be there for them in any way you can. “This lets the person know that they are not alone and eases their anxiety,” says Mariel. 

    Also, because people tend to anchor their identities and self-worth with their work and income, emphasize to your loved ones that they are cherished and valuable no matter what. Remind them of their core strengths and highlight the small things they do each day to contribute to their family and the community. 
  1. Help them come up with a money-making gameplan. “Sit down with them and brainstorm ways they can earn extra money or manage their existing finances,” Mariel suggests.
  2. Utilize your connections. If you have another friend whose business is stable or thriving, ask if they have job openings, or if they would be willing to hire your friend on a freelance basis. “But if you’re unsure about the financial state of your friend’s business, best not to bring it up,” cautions Mariel.
  3. For those who have put up businesses, support them through social media. This past year has seen many people turning to home-based side businesses to augment their income. While the pressure to buy their products can be strong, Mariel assures that there are other ways to show support. “One of the most powerful ways you can help their business grow is to spread the word on social media. Be deliberate in tagging them on online marketplaces, sharing their posts, and leaving glowing reviews,” Mariel says. “Doing these won’t even cost you anything.”  

    In the event that you disagree with your friend’s business plan (i.e. you feel the product is too expensive), be careful in voicing your opinion. “Just express it subtly, like ‘Hey, I saw another person selling the same thing as you but at a lower price, and it’s doing very well; maybe you can try doing the same?’” advises Mariel. “Always make sure that feedback is constructive, not solely critical.”

“One of the most powerful ways you can help their business grow is to spread the word on social media. Be deliberate in tagging them on online marketplaces, sharing their posts, and leaving glowing reviews,”

Mariel Bitanga, SimplyFinance (on supporting your loved one’s business for free)
  1. Help them find local resources. “Good financial planners don’t just help with money management, we can also sit down with them and strategize how to earn extra money,” explains Mariel. 

    When choosing a financial planner, make sure they have legitimate credentials and offer a holistic program. This means that instead of just focusing on a specific area of a person’s finances (i.e. insurance or investments), the financial planner considers all aspects of the client’s personal circumstances and financial position to identify the actions that need to be taken to meet their goals for the future. 

    Finally, Mariel adds that there is also a wealth of credible and free financial planning resources available online. She recommends the following:
  • Chinkee Tan’s “Chink Positive” (available on YouTube and Spotify) 
  • Thea Sy Bautista (available on YouTube)
  • Marvin Germo (available on YouTube)
  • Vince Rapisura (available on YouTube)
  • Simply Finance TV (available on YouTube)
  1. As a last resort, you may offer a cash gift or loan — but tread lightly. Only offer to lend or give money if you have a close relationship with the other person. “Otherwise, you risk hurting their pride or making them feel beholden to you,” explains Mariel. 

    When you do decide to offer financial assistance, do so without expectations of repayment. “When you put conditions on your assistance, you put an additional burden on the other person. So make sure your offer is an amount that you are comfortable letting go of,” Mariel advises. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, your loved ones may truly need your financial assistance. Before you commit to helping, be sure to think through what you can and can’t afford to do. Remember that if your own resources are limited, there are meaningful, effective, and creative ways to help others.
If someone you know needs help managing their financial worries, MindNation’s WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for online sessions in the PH and (for a limited time) in the Middle East and North Africa Region. Book a slot now on FB Messenger http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected].

Categories
Employee Wellness Financial Wellness Get Inspired Work in the New Normal

8 Ways to Improve Employee Loyalty

These days business success is no longer achieved by just hiring the best employees — you need to be able to retain them as well.

Employees are considered loyal if they are devoted to the success of their organization and believe that being an employee of this organization is in their best interest. Not only do they plan to remain with the organization, but they do not actively seek for alternative employment opportunities.

Loyalty benefits a business because a low employee turnover rate positively impacts morale, productivity, and even company revenue. This is because everytime you lose an employee, you need to spend time and money replacing and training someone else. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, a professional human resources membership association based in the United States, the average replacement cost of a salaried employee is equivalent to six to nine months’ salary. So for an employee earning USD60,000 per year, for example, that totals approximately USD30,000 to USD45,000 in recruiting and training expenses, including but not limited to:

  • Hiring costs: advertising, interviewing, screening, and hiring
  • On-boarding costs: training and management time
  • Lost productivity: new employees may take one to two years to achieve the productivity level of the exiting employee
  • Customer service and errors: new employees are often slower in their work completion and less adept at solving problems in the initial stages of employment

Clearly, instilling loyalty in your employees is worth it. So how can you make sure that your top talent stays happy, motivated, and devoted to your company? Here are some ways:

  1. Keep communication lines open. Never assume how your employees are feeling. Create a high feedback environment in which employees feel that their opinions are valued. 
  2. Invest in professional development. Provide staff with training, education, and meaningful work, as well as an opportunity for advancement within the organization in terms of pay, recognition, and responsibility.
  3. Give employees more control. When employees are micromanaged, they feel distrusted and have low self-esteem. On the other hand, companies that have employees who are engaged — meaning they make decisions rather than simply follow orders, experience lower turnover rate. The easiest way to increase employee engagement is to have them set their own working hours and decide whether and when to work remotely.   
  4. Clearly communicate policies. Expectations should be communicated through an employee handbook, and policies should be consistently enforced.
  5. Do not tolerate abuse or infractions committed by staff. Do not expect employees to feel happy or loyal to the company if management tolerates co-workers who make the workplace miserable to everyone else. These team members greatly increase stress (and therefore turnover) even among those who aren’t immediate victims. So have policies in place to discipline errant staff, and immediately  transfer or terminate those who display unwillingness to change their behavior.  
  6. Understand why employees leave. Conduct exit interviews and consult online reviews to learn what former and current employees are saying about the company, as information an employee shares online may be information they did not feel comfortable addressing during their employment or in the context of an exit interview.
  7. Provide competitive compensation and benefits. Offer competitive pay, meaning the salaries are “at market” or above. If you can’t provide that, make up for it by being generous in other categories, such as healthcare benefits (physical and mental), paid time off, and retirement savings plans.
  8. Improve company culture. This is defined as the interaction between management and employees and the personal interaction between employees — in short, how well everyone in the company gets along. As a manager, it is your responsibility to keep your finger on the pulse of the company’s culture by constantly going through the strategies listed above and finding ways to create an environment that is free from discrimination and stigma and supportive of one’s overall well-being. 

You don’t have to implement all the above practices art once. Start with small good behaviors and work up from there. Loyalty is not built overnight — rather, employees gradually respond to changes in behavior, management style, and company performance. Every little positive action, every improvement, every appropriate response to a challenge adds up.  So take stock of where you’re at, where you want to be, and how you plan to get there, then act. 

For more information on how to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams, visit www.themindnation.com

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Categories
Financial Wellness

5 Tips For Financial Wellness During the Holidays

The Christmas season is the most wonderful time of the year, but in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be stressful for people who are grappling with reduced income and yet feel that they have to spend to celebrate properly. Even though you get to save on some expenses since travel is curtailed and parties are banned, there is still the pressure to send gifts to loved ones or buy extra-special food for the holiday table. Instead of feeling love, peace, and joy this Christmas, one may end up feeling stressed, anxious, and guilty. 

“Financial worries can lead to poor mental health.” says Mariel Bitanga, a financial planner and founder of SImply Finance, a boutique financial planning firm committed to empowering women. “And it can get worse during this time of the year when people end up overspending and enter January with less savings or in debt.” 

To ease the anxiety and achieve financial wellness, you need to be more mindful and responsible about how you manage your money during the holiday season. Here are some suggestions: 

  1. Start early. Ideally you should be planning and listing down all your possible holiday expenses in the months leading to December, not during December itself. This way, you have a head start in setting aside cash for it and avoid the panic that comes with scrounging for funds when D-Day comes along.

How much of your income should you allocate for spending? Mariel advises people to follow the 50-30-20 budgeting method. “It’s beginner-friendly, generous towards your wants, and makes you feel more in-control of your spending,” she explains. Under this method:

  • Allocate 50% of your income to your necessities, or the things you need in order to survive, such as utilities, rent, and basic groceries.
  • 30% can be used to cover your “wants.” Wants are defined as non-essential expenses — things you choose to spend your money on although you could live without them if you had to. These include clothes shopping, dining out, entertainment subscriptions (i.e. Netflix), and groceries that are not part of the essentials. Your Christmas fund can fall under this category. 
  •  Finally, 20% can be put towards achieving your savings goals, investment opportunities, or paying back any outstanding debts.
  1. Make a list, check it twice, and stick to it. But even if you started late with your holiday planning, no worries, there are still ways to save. One is to make sure you approach your shopping methodically and not haphazardly. Just as your parents taught you to never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach because you’ll end up buying more food than you originally planned, neither should you do your holiday shopping without a ready list of recipients and corresponding budget. This makes you less likely to overshop and overspend. 
  1. Great gifts don’t need to be expensive. “Scour online for cheap but useful finds,” Mariel advises. “If you are crafty, make something out of your own hands; it’s cheaper but will be more meaningful for the recipient. Lastly, promote sustainability by normalizing giving secondhand gifts, like a dress that doesn’t fit you anymore but you know will look good on your friend.”

Gifts can also be non-material. “During these tough times, a simple gesture or word of encouragement will mean the world to someone who is struggling,” assures Mariel.

  1. “Don’t go into debt just to impress people or make them happy,” Mariel says. This means you shouldn’t feel obliged to give gifts if you really cannot afford it. “You’re the one who will suffer if you spend beyond your means and get the credit card bill next month.” Mariel says. “If the gift giver is sincere and a real friend, they will not expect anything in return; just don’t forget to say ‘thank you.’”
  1. When all the spending is done, reflect on what you could have done better and set your goals for NEXT YEAR. “Financial responsibility entails a lot of self-reflection,” Mariel reminds. “When you have the time, sit down and audit your finances. Think about what you can improve on, and what your financial goals are for the following year so that you can start preparing.” A financial planner can help you outline your goals in an objective manner, help you make sense of the computations, and create recommendations and action steps to fulfill those goals. “We’re here to give advice and present a clearer picture about your financial status,” Mariel explains.

And in case you do overspend or miss out on your financial goals this Christmas season, forgive yourself. “We are going through tough times right now, so don’t be too hard on yourself,” Mariel assures. “There are always ways to change the financial plan and save more, you just have to be creative and trust the process.”

Finally, always remember to go back to what the holidays are really about. “It’s about giving thanks for your family, friends, and all the other blessings you received this year; focus on those rather than on material things,” says Mariel. “Then make a firm commitment to change your ways and do better (financially) next year.”

If you need help managing your finances, send Mariel a message on www.simplyfinanceph.com and book a free Discovery Call to know more about their services. And if you want to talk to a friend to beat the holiday blues, message MindNation at http://m.me/themindnation!

Written by Jac of MindNation